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I '•"'NTtoINu S,A. 

Cornell University Library 
DT 82.B65 1907 

Atrocities of ustice under British rule 

3 1924 028 673 287 

Cornell University 

The original of tiiis book is in 
tine Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 











First Edition, igo6 
Second Edition, 1907 

(All rights reserved} 


In issuing a new edition of this pamphlet — the first 
having been sold out — a few words are necessary. 

Although three months have elapsed since the pamphlet's 
first appearance — months during which its contents, trans- 
lated into Arabic by the local Press in Egypt, have been 
passionately discussed, and not in Egypt only, but in 
India, and also in a minor degree everywhere where British 
rule in the East prevails and the good name of English 
justice is a vital issue — no attempt has been made, officially 
or unofficially, to controvert the fects of which it is a 
record. All that has been ventured in the way of answer 
has been to impute a lack of patriotism to its author in 
that he has laid too bare unwelcome truths, and, as the 
Times has put it, "discredited" British administration by 
exposing its irregularities. A silence so marked in the 
face of grave accusations publicly brought forward is the 
pamphlet's best justification. 

Meanwhile, in regard to the latest and gravest of the 
scandals recorded, that of Denshawai, the false pretexts put 
forward by the Home Government have had little by 
little to be abandoned. The excuse of "fanatical unrest," 
solemnly pleaded by Sir Edward ,Grey in July as a reason 
with members of Parliament for foregoing public criticism, 
became in August one of "political unrest," and in 



November was discarded by him altogether, the protest 
raised in Egypt against its validity having become in the 
meanvi^hile overwhelming. So, too, the pretence of legality 
in the trial has been gradually shifted to that of military 
necessity, if not by Sir Edward Grey, at least by his 
supporters in the English Press. As early as the 14th of 
October the Cairo correspondent of the Daily Telegraphy 
after a tour in the Delta, wrote as follows : — 

" The bogey of ' unrest in Egypt ' is, I trust, buried. . . . 
I grant that in the neighbourhood of Tantah there is much 
bitter feeling, a feeling that one can well understand in view 
of the Denshawai deplorable business. Britishers here have a 
particular and proper pride in supporting whatever action may 
be taken by the British authorities, and yet I have up to the 
present not met a single Englishman whose business keeps 
him in constant contact with the true fellaheen who has not 
deplored the reprisals taken by us at Denshawai. But this is 
apart from the important and insistent question, ' Is there 
unrest in Egypt ? ' Again I say there is no foundation for 
the assertion that there" is unrest." 

Nevertheless, in spite of its admissions, our Government has 
done nothing at all to atone for its agent's great mistake. 
Lord Cromer has returned to Egypt without a word of ofBcial 
reproof; his subordinates have neither been dismissed nor 
censured. No promise has been given of a repeal of the 
abominable decree of 1895, nor any engagement taken that 
like judicial atrocities shall not on like occasions be repeated. 
Worst of all, the villagers condemned by the mock tribunal of 
Shibin-el-Kom are still undergoing their sentences of hard 
labour, unrelieved by prospect of release. Among them, be it 
noted, is the husband of the peasant woman wounded by the 
officer's gun fired in the pigeon-shooting raid ! With regard 
to this unfortunate man, on the 29th of November last Sir 


Edward Grey, in reply to a question asked in Parliament, 
declined to instruct Lord Cromer to make representations in 
favour of the remission of his sentence — a life sentence — or release 
from imprisonment. 

This refusal of all redress or justice, though the truth is 
known to Sir Edward Grey, is the best justification of the 
second edition of the pamphlet. 

W. S. B. 
December 26, 1906. 



If British rule in the East has any moral meaning it is con- 
nected with legality — the introduction of that equal justice 
before the law which is the boast of all civilisation. 

When we first occupied Egypt it was with the cry of 
"Justice" on our lips. Sir Edward Malet, our then Consul- 
General, was never tired of demanding it as the most urgent 
of all reforms, and the very last words he uttered publicly at 
Cairo in his official capacity were " Justice ! Justice ! " How 
then has it come about that, after twenty-four years of what 
has been, all but in name, British rule in Egypt, so great a 
scandal should have arisen as that exhibited by the recent trial 
and execution of the villagers of Denshawai for an affray 
which had arisen between them and certain English officers 
of the Army of Occupation by a legal process hardly differing 
at all from martial law, and where the rules of equity as between 
man and man have been set ostentatiously at defiance ? 

My object in writing these pages is to try and trace the 
history of cases of the kind as they have happened within my 
recollection in Egypt, and in this way to show the essentially 
inequitable basis on which the criminal relations between 
Englishman and native, especially between English officer and 


Egyptian fellah, have been made to stand, as often as it has 
been thought advisable on political grounds to uphold the 
former and punish the latter. Four years ago I addressed Lord 
Lansdowne, then at the Foreign Office, on the subject, showing 
how a recent case of the kind had been hushed up, and how 
the truth regarding it had been disguised by our diplomacy at 
Cairo, and my memoir was referred by him to Lord Cromer, 
who, while unable to deny — for I had given documentary 
proof — that the case had been falsely reported, and, as such, 
presented to the House of Commons, nevertheless indignantly 
denied that any legal inequity or irregularity existed. His 
words deserve attention at the present moment, when the 
abnormal action of the law, which it is impossible any longer 
to deny, is excused on grounds oi political necessity in view 
of an alleged " fanatical unrest " creating danger in Egypt. 
Lord Cromer, in an official but unpublished despatch oi 
March 21, 1902, addressed to Lord Lansdowne, and forwarded 
to me officially by the Foreign Office, says : " I must, in 
justice to the General [in command of the British garrison] 
and to the Egyptian judicial authorities, give a positive denial 
to the following remarks, which are contained in Mr. Blunt's 
memorandum. ' When the English General of the Army of 
Occupation in Egypt chooses to insist,' Mr. Blunt says, ' the 
Egyptian authorities are either powerless to resist^ or lend 
themselves too readily to measures of undue severity on natives 
with whom English officers have come into collision.' I 
need hardly say that there is not the smallest foundation for 
this insulting statement." 

The indignation thus expressed four years ago reads strangely 
to-day, when my very moderate statement of an already 
notorious fact stands reinforced by the hangings, floggings, 
and sentences of penal servitude we have just witnessed ; when 
the Egyptian authorities have lent themselves, before the whole 


world, to savage severities inflicted by a special tribunal 
insisted on by the English General in command ; when, 
in a case which was hardly one of manslaughter, we find it 
described as " brutal and premeditated murder " in an official 
report presented to Parliament ; and when, finally, Lord 
Cromer himself entirely approves the whole of the proceedings, 
including the sentences, as "just and necessary." 

I feel myself, therefore, more than entitled — indeed, com- 
pelled by public duty — to renew my protest against a state of 
things become intolerable. It is the more necessary because 
in the present instance our Government has openly connived 
at a concealment of the truth, using, more unscrupulously than 
is usual, the tricks and subterfuges resorted to by all Govern- 
ments to prevent a discussion of the case in Parliament. The 
Denshawai case, when it was first sought to bring it forward in 
the House of Commons, was set aside by an appeal made by 
Sir Edward Grey to English patriotism, so earnest and so 
emphatically pronounced as to seal the lips of members, 
accompanied with a promise of full information. Excuses 
were next made for delay in publishing, and, though all the 
essential documents had a month before been published in 
Egypt, the Blue Book was not presented to Parliament till the 
last week of the Session. Even then the full information 
promised was not vouchsafed. The facts of the case, it was 
found, had been carefully concealed. Not a single syllable oj 
the evidence given at the trial — not even that of the officers — 
was printed^ although the excuse for the delay had been 
precisely the lengthy character of that evidence, and though 
reports of it had appeared *in all the Egyptian papers. In its 
place was given a childish presentment of the evidence em- 
bodied in the text of the Judgment of the court — a self-contra- 
dictory, truculent, and absurd document, such as has seldom, if 
ever, issued from a tribunal in any country pretending to be 


civilised. Nor was the case less prejudiced by the fact that Lord 
Cromer — who had ordered the trial, and who, there is reason 
to believe, had decided on the aeath sentences before the trial 
began — instead of being required to explain his own share in 
a matter so compromising, appears in the Blue Book in the 
character of impa,rtial critic and adviser of the Government, 
approving the abnormal procedure adopted, and giving testi- 
monials of humanity to the English officials — men less blame- 
worthy than himself — who had been acting under his orders. 

This, I repeat, is a scandal so great and an offence against 
human right so cynical that I am compelled to renew my 
charges and to insist on further inquiry. I have it in my 
power, I believe, to make publicly known the true circum- 
stances, not only of this but of other kindred cases, proving 
that the Denshawai miscarriage of justice is no exceptional 
error of judgment, but part of a system under which every 
principle of civilised law has been for years past made sub- 
servient to what has been considered political advantage. It 
is not too much to say that Lord Cromer, great as are his 
merits as an administrator and an economist, and in spite of 
his initial services to judicial reform in Egypt twenty years 
ago, has of late years so dominated justice there that in political 
cases there is no Native Court, not even the Court of Criminal 
Appeal at Cairo, that has the smallest independence. The 
judgment delivered at Shibin-el-Kom would be alone a proof 
of this. I am resolved, therefore, that this condition of things 
shall no longer pass in the silence imposed on it by Sir Edvrard 
Grey, believing as I do that publicity, at whatever cost to 
patriotic pride, is the only safeguard against evils which, ir 
continued, must end in disgrace and ruin to the English name. 

I publish this pamphlet as an appeal to my own countrymen 
in English. But I am also resolved, if necessary, to go further. 
If I find the case not taken up in Parliament this autumn in 


such a way as to oblige Sir Edward Grey to express his dis- 
approval of the injustice done ; if nobody in Egypt is called to 
account for an act of terror oi which either our officials 
there or Lord Cromer have certainly been guilty ; if the 
villagers still undergoing unjust imprisonment are not released ; 
if the infamous Decree of 1895 is not revoked and the relations 
between the English Army of Occupation and the Egyptians 
are not put on a civilised footing, then I shall appeal, beyond 
the sense of justice in my own countrymen to a larger body of 
opinion. / intend to have this pamphlet published in French, 
so that our wrongdoing may be patent to all the world ; so that 
the French Generals who smarted seven years ago under the 
lash of our English indignation when theyirregularly condemned 
Dreyfus may know that v^e too have officials, military and 
civil, whose ideas of legality are no higher than were then 
their own ; so that the King of the Belgians may know that 
not only on the Congo is the common protection of law against 
the violence ot soldiers denied to natives ; that the Czar may 
know that the hangings of innocent men in Russia have their 
counterpart in the judgments of tribunals presided over by 
English judges. Still more, and perhaps with more effect, 
/ shall have this pamphlet translated into Arabic, so that 
every Egyptian may. understand, and all the Eastern world, 
that British justice, so long vaunted among us, has become a 
vain and unmeaning word, and that England has publicly 
renounced her sole title to their regard, an unswerving adherence 
to equity before the law, and with it the whole of the mission 
of civilisation of which she has made boast. I have the power 
to do this not in Egypt only, but in India and throughout the 
East, where my words will have weight, however little power 
may be mine in England ; and, for the sake of the brotherhood 
of man with man, I shall not hesitate in this sense to persuade 
and to warn. 


Sir Edward Grey has said that the British Empire cannot 
be carried on if the doubtful acts of its officials abroad are to 
be criticised at home and their injustices denounced. It is a 
grave saying and one which, if true, would lead to but a single 
conclusion. If of a truth the deeds of our ofiBcials cannot bear 
the light, if they are indeed deeds of darkness, then the British 
Empire, which exists. Sir Edward Grey tells us, by the world's 
ignorance of these things, deserves to go the way of other 
Empires where justice has been flouted and the common right 
of humanity denied. It were best, then, to paraphrase Mr. 
Gladstone's well-known utterance about India thirty years 
ago, that the British Empire with all its crimes upon its head 
should " perish." 

Early Cases. Lord Charles Beresford at 

On Sunday, the nth of July, 1882, Sir Beauchamp Seymour 
(afterwards Lord Alcester), commanding the British fleet in 
Egyptian waters, bombarded Alexandria. England was at 
peace with Egypt, and the pretext put forward was that 
the British fleet was in danger from the guns of the Alex- 
andrian forts occupied by the Egyptian army, and a demand 
had been made that these should be evacuated. As the 
evacuation, though the forts were for the most part destroyed, 
was not complete, the bombardment was renewed on the 12th, 
and in the afternoon the city was found to be on fire. This 
was partly the work of Sir B. Seymour's shell fire, partly ot 
pillagers. Bedouins and roughs, who, profiting by the confusion, 
spread the conflagration. The Egyptian army the same 
evening, July I2th, evacuated the place, and, a large number 
of the inhabitants having fled with them, Alexandria was left 
to its fate. 


On the 13th English sailors from the fleet were landed 
to deal with the conflagration. There was still no acknow- 
ledged state of war, but on their first landing, civilian natives 
found in the streets were shot down and run through almost 
indiscriminately. I remember being told by one acquainted 
with the facts in 1887 : " The new town is built on the 
graves of the Arabs. The British public does not know to 
this day how many of them our men killed when they landed. 
They were shot down and speared as they lay." But in a few 
days some semblance of order replaced the first barbarities. 
The Khedive, who had ordered the defence of the forts against 
the fleet, seeing his army beaten, had placed himself under 
the protection of Sir Beauchamp Seymour, and Lord Charles 
Beresford was entrusted (July 15th) with the task of policing 
the city, and acted in His Highness's name. Martial law was 
then established, and under it natives found under suspicious 
circumstances were freely arrested, summarily tried and 
executed on charges of murder, theft, arson, and the rest. 
Some of these probably deserved their punishment, but many 
more were as probably innocent, the ordinary forms of law 
being dispensed with, and those who gave judgment bemg 
ignorant of the language, customs, and legal codes of the 
country. It is calculated that several hundreds were thus 
dealt with. But no detail has ever been published, nor is 
there probably in existence any true record. The London 
Standard of July 17th publishes the following telegram from 
its correspondent at Alexandria, which shows the pressure put 
at the very outset on the Egyptian Government in the direction 
of severity : " yf // action is taken in the name of the Khedive. 
At first the latter refused to sanction the order for the shooting 
and flogging of incendiaries, and required time to consult his 
advisers. Major Tulloch, however, who was the bearer of 
the document for signature, instantly turned to repair to the 


Admiral to report, when the Khedive at once sent after him 
and gave him the sanction required." 

On the 1 8th of July a first contingent of the British army 
arrived at Alexandria under General Alison, and was landed 
and encamped at Ramleh, a suburb of the city. The Khedive 
then was encouraged to form a new Government with such 
few Turkish and Circassian Pashas as had with him deserted 
the National cause, and the administration of justice with the 
policing of the city was entrusted to these, British officers 
assisting the Khedivial police, and British soldiers enforcing 
their judgments. The new regime, however, which we find 
established in August, proved to be even worse for the natives, 
if possible, than the other, as in addition to the arbitrary 
character of the decisions arrived at by Lord Charles 
Beresford's drumhead courts martial, sentences of a peculiarly 
barbarous and vindictive character, unknown to modern 
English practice even in war-time, were now imposed, 
especially in cases affecting captured rebels, by the Khedive's 
men. Among these were torture in prison, the thumbscrew, 
the kurbash, the bastinado, and, in one instance, the keel- 
hauling of three prisoners of war, most of the modes of 
torture being fully proved afterwards, though at the time 

Two instances may be specially cited belonging to this 
period, as connected with crimes and offences committed 
against Englishmen and pushed forward by English insistence. 
The first is the case of the arrest and trial of one Atieh 
Hassan, a native carter, accused of murdering Mr. Dobson and 
Mr. Richardson on the nth of June — that is to say, a full 
month before the bombardment of Alexandria — avowedly as an 
act of vengeance for the death of Englishmen and quite 
unconnected with the actual maintenance of order. The man 
was arrested by English order, and tried by an English court 


martial and sentenced to be shot, but having been handed over 
to the Khedivial authorities the punishment was changed to 
hanging, and to being left to hang from sunrise to sunset in 
the quarter he inhabited, with a placard affixed to his breast 
in English and in Arabic, stating the crime for which he had 
been condemned to death. Colonel Cleland, chief of the new 
police, superintended the execution, with two half companies 
of the 96th Regiment, and three companies of the 95th, 
drawn up in open square surrounding the gallows, the execu- 
tion being carried into efifect by the Egyptian police. The 
case is worth attention, not from any special barbarity in the 
carrying out of the sentence, although some extra cruelty is 
noticed in the published accounts of the execution, but because 
it exemplifies what has since often happened — the use of 
English military power in Egypt to punish natives for crimes 
against Englishmen, according to military ideas of law, and by 
irregular means. The crime, if really committed by the man, 
had been committed at a time when the ordinary criminal 
courts were open for his punishment, and his judgment now 
by court martial, where no proper safeguards existed for the 
defence of the accused, was not justice, but the lawless seizing 
of an opportunity of getting blood at any cost for blood. That 
it was a case of vengeance, not of justice, is shown by the 
local English newspaper accounts of the day, where the only 
regret expressed is at the long delay since the crime was 
committed. "So many horrors and miseries," writes one ot 
them, "have happened since that day, that men's hearts are 
broken and crushed to such an extent that even revenge has 
lost some of its sweetness." 

A second case of about the same date exemplifies the 
astonishing disproportion between offence and punishment 
shown in cases where Englishmen were concerned. It is that 
of an Englishman who, driving through the streets of 


Alexandria, accidentally ran over an Arab. A small crowd 
collected and a native seized the horses' heads, but without 
violence being used towards the Englishman. The man 
who had seized the horses' heads was arrested by soldiers and 
accused before a Native Court of having dragged the English- 
man from his carriage, although the latter gave no evidence to 
that effect, admitting indeed that the native was wrongfully 
accused. Nevertheless, a sentence of four dozen stripes and 
fifteen years' hard labour was imposed. This case was never, that 
I know, officially inquired into, though the barbarous condition 
of things was recognised shortly after byjour Government. 

I was myself instrumental in getting the worst features 
connected with these punishments forbidden at the time, 
notably the keel-hauling and the thumbscrew, though the 
latter continued to be used secretly in the prisons until the full 
official exposure of the practice of prison torture by Messrs. 
Chermside and Beaman {see Blue Book, Egypt, No. 5, 1883). 
My intervention came about in this way. Seeing the report 
of some of these tortures having been inflicted on certain 
political prisoners and prisoners ot war a few days before 
the battle of Tel-el-Kebir, I wrote to Downing Street and 
laid the matter personally before Mr. Gladstone, asking him 
whether it was to re-establish such atrocities of vengeance as 
were being indulged in at Alexandria that he had sent British 
troops to Egypt. My letter brought a prompt and important 
answer, which may here be quoted as bearing upon abuses 
which have lately been renewed. Sir Edward Hamilton, Mr. 
Gladstone's private secretary, wrote as follows : — 

" 10, Downing Street, 
"Sept. 8, 1882. 
"I need hardly say that Mr. Gladstone has been much 
exercised in his mind at the rumours about these 'atrocities'- 


I can call them by no other name. Immediate instructions 
were sent out to inquire into the truth of them, and to 
remonstrate strongly if they were confirmed, I am glad to 
say that as far as our information at present goes the state- 
ments appear to be unfounded [they afterwards turned out to 
be for the most part true]. The strictest orders have been 
given for the humane treatment of the prisoners. There 
seems to be some doubt as to whether thumbscrewing was not 
inflicted on a spy in one case, and searching inquiries are to 
be instituted, with peremptory demands of explanation and 
guarantees against recurrence. You may he quite sure that 
Mr. Gladstone will denounce ' Egyptian atrocities ' as strongly as 
' Bulgarian atrocities^ " ^ 

It was the possession of this written promise given to me by 
the Prime Minister that enabled me a few days later to inter- 
vene with efFect when it was proposed to hand over Arabi and 
the other National leaders after the defeat of Tel-el-Kebir 
unconditionally into the hands of their political enemies and 
so, public opinion in England aiding me, eventually to save 
their lives. 

Nevertheless, although we were able to prevent the great 
judicial crime intended of having the Nationalist leaders 
hanged by the Khedive, and although we were promised, 
when their trial was compromised by Lord Dufferin, that 
there should be a general political amnesty, and although the 
talk of a reform of justice in Egypt was loud on official lips, 
especially Sir Edward Malet's, it was not long before precisely 
the same methods were resorted to at Cairo of obtaining 
vindictive punishments on natives who had come into 
collision with Englishmen, through the joint instrumentality 
of English martial law and the subservient savagery of the 

" Note.— The italics throughout are mine. — W. S. B. 


Khedivial Courts. A notable instance of this was the 
case of the prosecution connected with Professor Palmer's 

The Palmer Case. 

It will be remembered that Professor Palmer, a distinguished 
Arabic scholar holding the chair of Arabic at Cambridge, had 
been entrusted during the war by Lord Northbrook, then at 
the Admiralty, with a secret mission to the Bedouins east of 
the Suez Canal, and with a large sum of public money, 
;^ 20,000, wherewith to purchase their assistance against the 
Cairo Government. It being war-time, in all except the 
technical distinction put forward by our Government between 
war and military operations, and a fact that Professor Palmer 
and his two military and naval companions were travelling 
with j^ 3,000 of this money in disguise, the character of the 
three Englishmen had been clearly that of spies, and their 
death one not of common crime, but political and covered by 
the promised amnesty. This, however, did not prevent a 
vengeance being insisted upon. The form of it we find once 
again to be that of military law covered thinly with a 
semblance oi Egyptian legality. 

In order to obtain the result of vengeance, Lieutenant- 
Colonel Warren was sent to the desert where the Englishmen 
had been killed, accompanied by a sufficient military force and 
by Bedouins furnished him by the Khedivial Government, and 
having arrived at the spot he proceeded to make wholesale 
arrests of such Bedouins, men, women, and children, as he 
found within the district. These he took back with him and 
lodged in gaol in Suez, and proceeded to construct a case 
against the men which should justify the capital punishment or 
five of them, for the three Englishmen who had lost their 
lives. He efifected his purpose of selection by entirely irregular 


methods. Assuming a friendly guise towards his prisoners, he 
made them sit beside him for several days in succession, 
supplying them with coiFee and cigarettes, and out of their 
conversation thus invited, and translated to him by a drago- 
man, for he knew no word of Arabic, drew up a report as 
evidence incriminating the number required. They were 
then sent to Zagazig to undergo the formality of a trial before 
a Native Court, which sentenced them to death, and they 
were thereupon hanged. The vengeance, however, did not 
altogether end here. Six months later, as I passed through Suez, 
I found a number of the Bedouins with women and children 
collected by Warren still detained in prison in connection with 
this affair, though charged with no crime. I laid their case 
before Sir Benson Maxwell, the then judicial adviser in Egypt, 
as also before Mr. Gladstone, and so procured their release. 
It was from Mr. West, our then Consul at Suez, that I learned 
the particulars of Colonel Warren's method. Sir Benson 
Maxwell expressed himself as indignant at the women's case. 
Other scandalous cases of the miscarriage of justice with 
English connivance about the same time — the early half of 
1883 — were the hangings of Abu Dia at Tantah and of 
Suliman Sami at Alexandria, both of them judicial murders 
for political reasons. But, as in neither case was there any 
direct action of the English Agency that can be traced in 
pushing forward the prosecutions, I pass over them with a 
reference only to the fact that in both instances the English 
Government was politically interested in the guilt of the 
accused being proved. Abu Dia, an officer of Arabi's army, 
had, during the first days of the war of 1882, intervened at 
Tantah to save the lives of Christians who were being 
massacred with the connivance of the civil governor, a 
partisan of the Khedive's ; and Suliman Sami was the officer 
who, in command of the regular troops, had stopped the riot 


at Alexandria on June nth. Both these riots the English 
Government had asserted had been instigated by the Arabists, 
and they had made a pretext of them, in a very public 
manner, especially through Lord Dufferin at the Constanti- 
nople Conference, for armed intervention. The prosecution 
of Suliman Sami was moreover of political use to them, inas- 
much as it was instituted on a charge of his having fired 
Alexandria during the bombardment, for his conviction would 
relieve them by so much of their own responsibility for the 
burning of that city. The hanging of Suliman Sami became 
the subject of an indictment of Mr. Gladstone's Government 
by Lord Randolph Churchill for its misdoings in Egypt, and 
it was, I think, the last judicial murder, for an English political 
purpose, that was permitted in that country under Mr. Glad- 
stone's administration. 

The Quail-shooting Case at Ghizeh. 
With the accession of Lord Salisbury to power in 1886, the 
failure of the Drummond Wolff mission and the establishment 
of Lord Cromer in full authority at Cairo, an era of reforms 
was commenced, and, amongst others, a reform of the Law 
Courts, with a gradual improvement of justice as between 
native and native — a period to which Lord Cromer refers 
in the Denshawai Blue Book. Nevertheless, what he does 
not refer to is that at the very outset there occurred a case 
of extreme barbarity, and of recurrence to martial law in 
dealing with a criminal charge affecting the relations between 
native Egyptians and the Army of Occupation, one in which 
no semblance of legality was observed or even pretence of refer- 
ence to civilised law. This was the case of the quail-shooting 
a£fray in the district of Ghizeh. The facts, as related by the 
newspapers of the day, and confirmed by what I learned later 
of it by personal inquiries on the spot, are these : — 


Two English officers, Scoffield and Leith, of the Welsh 
Regiment, went out on Sunday, March 27, 1887, in plain 
clothes, quail shooting near the Ghizeh Pyramids, and there 
accidentally peppered four Arabs with small shot. These were 
angry at being hurt, and came up in a menacing attitude, and 
— such was the English account of the affair — endeavoured to 
wrest their guns from the officers, with the result that one 
Arab was shot dead and another wounded. Upon this the 
neighbouring villagers turned out in force, arrested the officers, 
and tied them hand and foot until the police should come. 
On the arrival of the police the officers were liberated, and the 
matter was reported by these to the General commanding in 
chief at Cairo. A military Commission was then appointed, 
and it was decided that a wholesome lesson should be given to 
the natives for what was called an " ebullition of fanaticism," 
and the chief persons of several villages round were flogged. 
The Cairo correspondent of the Standard thus describes the 
punishment : — 

" The particulars I telegraphed to you regarding the assault 
on British officers near the Ghizeh Pyramids is, as nearly as 
possible, correct, but I omitted to say that, besides the flogging 
awarded, some of the prisoners were heavily fined into the 
bargain, and that three sheikhs were punished by fine and 
imprisonment. At 3 p.m. last Thursday two companies of 
the Welsh, to which the officers assaulted belonged, marched 
off to the villages of the prisoners, and were drawn up to 
witness the execution of the sentence. Buleigh Bey was 
present with native mounted police, and Captain Freeman 
with some of his English military police. These consist of 
men picked from different cavalry regiments ; a fine stalwart 
body they are, and admirably disciplined. Captain Riddle 
(60th Rifles) was also there on duty. He is attached to the 
police. The prisoners were tied to the typical triangle, and in 



front of the villagers they received a pretty good castigation 
from the cat, laid on by stalwart British warders from the 
Ghizeh Gaol. The older prisoners bore the infliction well, 
but the younger ones halloaed. The punishment of the cat, 
however, is nothing in comparison with that inflicted by the 
corbash, and this used to be laid on the natives' backs and feet 
on every possible occasion. After a certain number had been 
flogged at one village, the troops, warders, and police moved 
on to another, and here some other persons were flogged in 
presence of the inhabitants. Colonel Tulloch, commanding 
the Welsh, then made a short speech, saying that the British 
were in Egypt to protect Europeans as well as natives, that 
they had shed their blood for the country, and were desirous to 
maintain order. Therefore if a similar outrage occurred, the 
perpetrators would be punished in a much more severe manner 
than the present prisoners had been. It must be remarked, 
however, that the villagers are often very hardly used by 
Europeans as regards their crops. No sooner does the shoot- 
ing season commence^n fact, there is always something to 
shoot about Cairo all the year round — than a swarm of Greeks, 
Italians, French, Levantines, nondescripts of all blends, and 
Englishmen, go forth and tread down their crops. Again and 
again have the poor natives protested. But what can be 
done? The 'Capitulations,' as they do in every and all 
occasions, step in. It is a crying shame. I heard to-day that 
some of the sheikhs of the villages have given out that on the 
first occasion of a European misconducting himself when on a 
shooting excursion they will have him hanged without mercy 
in retaliation for the punishment inflicted upon the Arabs." 

This, I repeat, was a case of martial law pure and simple, 
that is to say, of no law at all. I have not been able to 
ascertain whether the course adopted by the General in 
command had Lord Cromer's formal sanction, but it is 


probable that it had and that it must have been approved also 
by the Home Government. The villagers in the neighbour- 
hood, whom I questioned about the facts of the occurrence two 
years later, unanimously assured me that, though the first shot 
which had peppered the Arabs was accidental, the second, 
which killed the villager, was certainly intentional — "fired 
out of fear." I do not affirm that it was so, but such was the 
local knowledge. The officers were not, I believe, subjected 
to any form of trial on account of the villager's death, not even 
to the formality of a court martial. 

The Decree of 1895. 

In 1890 Sir John Scott was appointed official Adviser to the 
Ministry of Justice ; a man of high integrity, great experience 
of Egyptian law, and sincere sympathy with the natives. Under 
him the native law courts were reformed, both in procedure 
and in the personal character of the judges. His principle in 
appointing these was to choose men known for their probity and 
also for their independence of character, not merely, as we have 
seen them later, for their subservience to English orders. As 
long as Scott remained in the position of practical Minister of 
Justice the whole native magistrature was inspired with con- 
fidence and a certainty that judgments delivered by them, 
even against Englishmen, so long as they were just, would 
bring them into no trouble. He found himself, however, 
constantly at variance with Lord Cromer in regard to the 
appointments to the Native Court of Appeal. Lord Cromer 
was for strengthening the English political position in Egypt 
by influencing the Courts and by appointing a majority of 
Englishmen to the judgeships and only such natives as should 
be amenable to English pressure, whereas Scott maintained 
that there were plenty of native judges more competent than 
and quite as worthy of confidence as the Englishmen. This 


eventually led to Sir John Scott's retirement, as Sir Benson 
Maxwell had retired before him ; and from that date may 
be reclconed the grosser violations of law and interferences 
with judicial independence which recent years have 

With regard to the relations existing between the Army of 
Occupation and the natives, however, no such civilised reform 
was introduced, if we except the trifling police cases of assault 
between privates of the English regiments and natives in the 
streets of Cairo and Alexandria, drunken disputes for the most 
part, which were dealt with summarily and with a certain show 
of impartiality. Graver cases, and especially those where 
officers were concerned, continued to be treated arbitrarily 
and on political grounds. It must be noted too that the cases 
tried by the ordinary, or as they are called Summary^ Native 
Courts were confined to charges made against natives. In 
cases of mutual assault no countercharge could be brought against 
a soldier except before an English court martial. Nevertheless, 
the English General in command was always complaining 
of the lack of protection given by law to his men. 

In the winter of 1894- 1895, an affray took place at Suez 
between sailors of Her Majesty's Navy and natives of that 
seaport town, in which the punishment inflicted on the latter 
by a Summary Court was not considered by Lord Cromer to 
have been sufficient, and it was, I understand, in consequence 
of this and of the strained relations existing at the time 
between him and the Khedive that Lord Cromer pressed upon 
the Egyptian Government the new law which has been 
recently so much cited, that of February 25, 1 895, giving him 
a legal right, in concert with the English General in com- 
mand, of taking into his own hands all such cases as might 
affect the Army of Occupation and the Royal Navy. Ac- 
cording to the new law, where soldiers should have brought a 


complaint before the General of assault by a native, the 
General, if he thought fit, might apply to the English Agency 
requesting that the case be taken out of the jurisdiction of the 
Summary Courts, and dealt with by a special semi-military 
Tribunal, the members of which, partly English, partly Egyp- 
tian, should be practically chosen by the British Agent and him- 
self, and these judges should be empowered to decide the case 
at a public trial according to semi-military procedure, and to 
inflict what sentences they pleased, without appeal. It rested 
with the British Agency to allow or disallow this course. 

Although this law was decreed while Sir John Scott was in 
office at Cairo, it is difficult to believe that it was due to his 
initiative, and I have been informed that the contrary was the 
case. But it must be remembered that the worst features of 
the new tribunal did not disclose themselves until after his 
retirement. Sir John Scott might well have thought, when 
the Decree was issued, that his presence at the Ministry of 
Justice would be, as doubtless it would have been, a sufficient 
check upon abuses, for the choice of the judges would have 
rested partly with himself. With his departure, however, 
and the growing assumption of all power, judicial as well as 
administrative, by Lord Cromer, the guarantee for impartiality 
was enfeebled to the point of extinction, until the extreme 
possibilities of injustice under the Decree have been revealed 
to us to-day in the barbarities we have witnessed. 

It is hardly possible to exaggerate this point. Although in 
appearance vested with a character less arbitrary than a court 
martial. Tribunals formed under the Decree of 1895 afford 
less protection to natives tried by them even than the other, 
inasmuch as they have power of inflicting punishments of a 
severity no court martial, except in war-time, would venture 
to impose ; while the composition of the Tribunals, partly 
native, partly English, throws the odium of such punishments 


on the native judges, relieving by so much the odium which 
would otherwise rest wholly on the British General and the 
British Diplomatic Agent. The criminal law, too, of Egypt, 
whose procedure is in part followed, gives special facilities in 
unscrupulous hands of convicting innocent men, so that trials 
conducted under the Decree combine the preliminary interro- 
gations of the accused under conditions of terrorism, even 
perhaps of torture — for all is done in secret, and with wide 
possibilities of falsifying the proch verbaux^ or written reports 
of the evidence used later at the open trial^-with the lack of 
legal ceremony and the celerity of execution of a court 
martial. It is not too much to say that under the Decree of 
1895 a native Egyptian could he legally sentenced to death, 
even death by impalement or crucifixion, for having by a 
blow prevented or resented the violation of his wife by an 
English soldier. The Denshawai case falls little short of such 
an extreme but possible case in its sheer iniquity. 

Nevertheless, though the text of the Decree permits any 
and every enormity of punishment in any and every case where 
a complaint of assault has been made by a British soldier 
endorsed by the British General and sanctioned by the British 
Diplomatic Agent, it is clear and there is official record that 
the Decree was intended to be applicable only in cases where 
officers and soldiers of the Army of Occupation had been 
assaulted while in the execution of their military duty. This 
is to be found in Blue Book, Egypt, No. 3 (1901). In it 
Sir Rennell Rodd, then acting British Agent, under date 
August 25, 1901, and when speaking of a case which had 
been tried before an ordinary Court in which officers not on 
duty had been assaulted, writes in reference to the Decree of 

" There is, indeed, a special Court with very far-reaching 
powers, from whose sentences there is no appeal, which may be 


convened in exceptional circumstances to try offences against 
officers and men of the Army of Occupation. This Court 
has only been assembled twice to my knowledge since it was 
instituted, and in both cases for offences of a very grave 
character against soldiers in uniform in the execution of their 
duty. It would have been entirely contrary to the spirit and 
intention in which that Tribunal was constituted to convene 
it in order to try an afiair of this nature. . . ." 

The Denshawai trial, therefore, ordered by Lord Cromer to 
be held under the Decree of 1895 and before a special Tribunal, 
in a case where the officers were out for their pleasure pigeon 
shooting, and not at all on duty, was, on the authority just 
cited, if not contrary to the text, contrary at least to the 
spirit and intention of the law, and therefore illegal. 

It is very necessary that this point should be pressed upon 
Sir Edward Grey in any further questions that may be asked 
in Parliament, for it bears upon the all-important fact, which 
is really at the root of the whole of these scandals, Lord 
Cromer's official readiness to override and strain the law where 
public considerations in his opinion require it. Sometimes 
these interventions of his authority, so noticeable in recent 
years, have been directed towards ostensibly good objects, 
sometimes towards objects merely of immediate political 
advantage. But in either case the injury done by them to the 
integrity and independence of the judicial body in Egypt and 
to the public respect for legality throughout the country has 
been very great, and has resulted in a complete subservience ot 
the Native Courts to the least hint or expression of the British 
Agent's will. 

The Minshawi Case. 

A notable instance of Lord Cromer's intervention, with an 
ostensibly good object, in the working of the law is that of the 
arrest ordered by him of the late Minshawi Pasha. 


Minshawi Pasha was a fellah notable of great wealth and 
influence in the Delta, a man of liberal sympathies, wide 
benevolence, and patriotic antecedents. He enjoyed the 
highest repute in his own province as a local magnate and the 
leader in all public works of a benevolent kind. He had the 
misfortune, however, to be a country neighbour and personal 
friend of the Khedive's, the Khedive being at that time on 
very ill terms with Lord Cromer, to whom various high- 
handed practices of His Highness's had truly or falsely been 
reported. These Lord Cromer wzs resolved to put a stop to, 
and the occasion was given him by the following incident. 
The Khedive, who is an agriculturist on a large scale, had on 
repeated occasions been subject to thefts of his cattle on an 
estate adjoining Minshawi's, and through the neglect or 
unintelligence of the Anglo-Egyptian police the thieves had 
always remained undiscovered. At last it happened that a 
prize bull recently imported from Europe was stolen, and as 
the police again failed to arrest the culprits the Khedive applied 
to his neighbour to help him to find out who these were. 
This Minshawi agreed to do, and having learned, through his 
local influence, the identity of the thieves, for they were well 
known in the district, he had them arrested in concert with 
the provincial governor and conveyed to his own house. 
There, according to report, he had them beaten with a view 
to discovering where the bull had been hidden. It was no 
doubt a most improper and illegal act, but it is exceedingly 
doubtful whether it was one of such gravity as to have called 
for Lord Cromer's intervention, but for the fact of the 
Khedive's connection with the affair. As it was, however, 
Lord Cromer saw in it the opportunity he needed, and as the 
Egyptian authorities had taken insufiicient action in the matter, 
Lord Cromer took it into his own hands and ordered the 
Pasha's arrest and prosecution, with the result that Minshawi 


was in a very public manner arrested on a charge of torture, 
and was tried for it at Tantah, his native town, where twenty 
years before he had rendered a notable service to humanity by 
saving the lives, at considerable personal risk, of Christians in a 
local riot, and sentenced to imprisonment. 

Lord Cromer's action at the time was much applauded in 
England, his personal intervention in the matter being univer- 
sally acknowledged, and in no way repudiated by him. The 
following extract from the Daily Telegraph of April 25, 1902, 
will show the view taken of his action : — 

" The trial of Menshawi Pasha, in connection with what 
is known as the Egyptian Torture Case, was concluded to-day. 
For a month past this case has caused the greatest ferment, 
especially in the native circles, Menshawi being one of the 
most influential and wealthy pashas in Egypt. He was 
actively identified with Arabi in the revolt of 1882; but a 
contingent of his having saved the lives of Europeans during 
the troubles, he was allowed to return to Egypt. The present 
case is that in order to curry favour with the Khedive he took 
natives from the local prison and flogged them unmercifully 
to extract a confession of the theft of a prize bull belonging 
to the Khedive which had mysteriously disappeared. 

" On the men being brought into court they protested their 
innocence, and stated that torture had been applied to obtain 
the so-called confession. A medical examination proved that 
they had been brutally ill-used, and Lord Cromer ordered the 
arrest of Menshawi Pasha, The Native Court at Tantah, after 
a week's sitting, now sentences Menshawi to three months' 
imprisonment, and the Mamour of the district and the servants 
who applied the torture to two months. 

" Surprise and general satisfaction is expressed amongst the 
natives that the British authorities show, by the decisive 
measures taken in the present instance, that they will not 


permit oppression of the lowest subject even by the highest 
in the land." 

The use of the word "torture," as rightly applied to flogging 
by Lord Cromer's admirers in this case, may be usefully con- 
trasted with their deprecation of the word to-day in connection 
with the punishments at Denshawai and with Lord Cromer's 
own apology for the practice published in the recent Blue Book. 

The Montaza Case. 

Another less-known case, where the Khedive was also 
concerned, but in which not justice but injustice was the 
result of a very distinct illegality forced upon the Egyptian 
Government in the Khedive's absence by Lord Cromer and 
sanctioned by a mere "Ministerial order," in no way 
differing from the " Administrative orders " in use in Russia, 
is that of Montaza, the true facts of which Lord Cromer has 
so far succeeded in keeping almost secret. That it was dealt 
with illegally is proved by Sir Edward Grey's recent statement 
that it did not come under the head of cases dealt with under 
the Decree of 1895, which alone could have legalised the irregu- 
larity. The facts were as follows : — 

On Sunday, the loth of June, 1900, two English officers 
or the Alexandria garrison, Captain Bulkely and Captain 
Howes Welsh, attempting to penetrate in plain clothes that 
part of the Palace precincts at Montaza which is reserved for 
the ladies of His Highness's household — though the Vice- 
Reine herself was not at the time in residence — came into 
conflict with the guard of the place, and with some workmen 
accidentally employed on the premises, and got themselves 
somewhat severely beaten. According to the legal reports, 
procis verbaux, of the adventure, which give the officers' own 
story, they were on their way in a sailing-boat by sea to 
Aboukir, and the wind being contrary their boatman put them 


on shore at the Khedive's private landing quay, which is 
within the forbidden precincts. There they found a single 
guard on sentry duty in a kiosk who motioned them away, 
and after an altercation between him and their boatman which 
they did not understand, the man still opposing, they rushed on 
him, knocked him down and attempted to disarm him. The 
excuse they gave for this assault was that they had been asleep 
in the boat, that they did not know where they were, and that 
they took the sentry to be a coastguard or a madman and 
feared that he might shoot them. All three, officers and 
sentry, fell on the ground together, when the cries of the 
sentry brought people to his assistance, workmen who were 
repairing a jetty, and who, seeing the guard overpowered by 
strangers, themselves overpowered these, belabouring them 
with pieces of carpentering wood lying near, and inflicting 
rather serious scalp wounds. 

The incident having been reported by the officers to the 
English General in command at Alexandria, he demanded a 
severe punishment on the natives. It happened, however, that 
the Khedive was away from Egypt and precisely at that 
moment was paying a visit to Her late Majesty Queen 
Victoria in England, and, as the conflict had occurred on the 
Khedive's private property and the natives concerned were in 
the Khedive's personal service, the native Egyptian Ministry, 
subservient as it generally is to English dictation, refused to 
prosecute. Nevertheless, on the General's continued represen- 
tations. Lord Cromer decided that the prosecution should be 
insisted on. Pressure was therefore put upon the Minister's, 
and they were compelled to agree. The law of 1895 was in 
this case — at least so Sir Edward Grey has declared — not 
invoked, the officers being neither in uniform nor in the 
execution of any military duty, but, in order to ensure a con- 
victioii and what was considered an adequate punishment, a 


procedure quite as exceptional and sanctioned by no law was 
adopted. Abandoning all legal precedent in criminal cases, 
the Egyptian Prime Minister was induced, by a simple Minis- 
terial order, to appoint a special Commission of Inquiry to act 
instead of the Public Prosecutor, and to take new evidence 
supplementary to the police evidence already obtained, which 
seemed to take too favourable a view of the native case. This 
special Commission consisted of two Englishmen, Mr. Corbett, 
the Procureur-G6n6ral, and the English Adjutant-Colonel of 
the garrison, with Kheyri Pasha, civil governor of Alexandria, 
as third. Thus constituted, the Commission examined wit- 
nesses afresh, and framed an indictment, in default of any 
identifiable person among those who had injured the officers, 
against the unfortunate sentry whom they had assaulted, and 
against another guard who had accompanied the officers to the 
surgery and telephone, and who, they said, had struck them on 
the way there. As, however, there was no Article in the Egyp- 
tian Code which in a case of assault in order to repel an assault 
could be punished with any severity, especially in the case 
where the persons assaulted were themselves guilty of a tres- 
pass in enclosed premises — an offence according to the Code of 
a very serious kind — a fiction of law was employed to inculpate 
the two guards of a conspiracy to assault with " previous 
agreement and intent to do bodily hurt." The last paragraph 
of a certain Article in the Criminal Code — Article 220 — was 
unearthed for the purpose. According to this, persons 
forming part of a band of armed men more than five in 
number might be indicted as a band of highway roughs and 
punished with extreme penalties, and on this charge the 
Commission of Inquiry decided that the sentry and his com- 
panion should be tried before a Native Court at Alexandria. 
The result was that a vindictive punishment was secured. 
Although there was no particle of evidence produced show- 


ing conspiracy or premeditation of any kind, but on the 
contrary the evidence of the officers themselves proved that 
the sentry was alone when the affray began, and that the 
other guard prosecuted had not been present at all when the 
injuries they complained of were inflicted, these two men, in 
default of other victims, were sentenced, the sentry to eight 
months' and his companion to three months' imprisonment. 

This case is interesting in many ways, and especially as 
showing how small a protection appeal aiFords to natives in 
such circumstances, and how certainly the Court of Appeal, 
packed as it is by Lord Cromer with Englishmen of his 
choice, and with subservient native judges, can be relied upon, 
however unjustly, to uphold a sentence obtained. Appeal here 
was made by the two prisoners, based on the undeniable fact 
that they were two persons only, whereas Article 220 names 
six persons as necessary to constitute an armed band, but the 
Court of Appeal, notwithstanding the illegality, without 
hesitation confirmed the sentences, and the assaulted sentry, an 
unfortunate soldier who had just been rescued from a sixteen 
years' captivity at Omdurman in the prisons of the Khalifa, 
was forced to undergo the whole of this new imprisonment at 
English hands. 

Such are the facts revealed by the proch verhaux of the trial. 
They were told me first in their main outlines by the Khedive 
himself on the 23rd of November, 190 1, and His Highness 
promised at the same time to send me the prods verhaux of the 
trial, as well as the details of a second case which had occurred 
near his palace at Koubba, where a notable of Waila, riding on 
an ass on the high-road, had been assaulted by troopers of the 
2 1st Lancers, and had died of the injuries inflicted, without 
any court martial having been held on any of them or punish- 
ment of any kind imposed, I have a record of this con- 
versation in my journal of that date, as also of a message I 


received later, to the effect that shortly after it occurred Lord 
Cromer, to whom the Khedive had mentioned the incident, 
forbade His Highness to send me the details of either case. I 
obtained, however, notwithstanding the prohibition, the docu- 
ments relating to the Montaza trial, and find in them the facts 
as I here state them. On my sending in an account of the 
af&ir, in the spring of 1902, with other matters of a like 
nature, illustrating the perversion of justice in cases affecting 
the Army of Occupation in Egypt, to Lord Lansdowne, at the 
Foreign Office, Lord Cromer, to whom my representations 
were referred, thought fit to deny the Montaza facts. He 
was, I presume, unaware that the proch verbaux of the trial 
were in my possession when he made the denial, for it cannot 
be supposed that he had so soon forgotten a case of which he 
had himself authorised the procedure. 

The Fox-hunting Case. 
Another and better known case, somewhat similar to that of 
Montaza, is the case of certain officers of the nth Hussars, 
who, with other officers, broke into my walled garden near 
Cairo, during my absence in England, at five o'clock on Sunday 
morning, the 21st of July, 1901, to hunt the half-tame foxes 
there. Here was a case of trespass, insignificant according to 
English hunting ideas as between the officers and myself, but 
a very serious violation of Egyptian law, for which the tres- 
passers, had they been natives, might have been prosecuted 
with the certainty of heavy sentences being imposed. More- 
ever, they were the aggressors, having struck the first blows on 
my native servants with their hunting-whips, and were thus 
wholly in the wrong. The servants had at most struck one 
blow, and thrown a clod of earth in return, inflicting injuries 
so light as to have left no marks, not even a contusion. Yet 
on application by the General in command at Cairo to Sir 


Rennell Rodd, acting in Lord Cromer's place, that " the chief 
offenders might be severely punished," a political colour was at 
once given to the afiair, and all the forces of the lawr, regular 
and irregular, were put in motion to ensure conviction of the 
natives, and heavy sentences pronounced. The whole staff of 
the garden was arrested, and three of them were conveyed in 
irons to Cairo. The preliminary inquiry of the local police, 
which, as in the Montaza case, had recorded facts adverse to 
the officers, was set aside, and a new inquiry, under circum- 
stances of extreme intimidation, was ordered to replace it. 
The servants were then sent for trial before a removable 
native judge, and once more a charge of conspiracy and pre- 
meditation, "previous agreement to assault and do bodily 
hurt," was preferred against them, and a sentence of three 
years' imprisonment demanded by the prosecution. It was 
due to an accident only — namely, that the natives were in my 
service, and had found an able and honest lawyer to defend 
them for my sake — that the full penalty was not imposed. As 
it was, terms of six and four and three months were given in a 
country court where the Advocate-General appeared in person, 
with the governor of the province and other high officials, 
Egyptian and English, and where the officers, who had been in 
mufti at the time of the affray, gave evidence in uniform. 

In this instance, however, the full sentences were not 
carried out. The noise of the aflair had reached England, and 
questions had been asked in Parliament, and the Court of 
Appeal to which the officers, not content with their limited 
vengeance, had applied to increase the sentences, reduced them. 

What made the case really important, however, was that 
when the Blue Book containing what purported to be the full 
papers connected with the trial appeared — for these had been 
promised — it was discovered by a comparison of it with the 
official reports in the original Arabic, that a false account of 


the case in its most essential features had been forwarded 
oflScially to the Foreign Office, and by the Foreign Office 
had been presented as a true account to Parliament. 

This brings us to the culminating iniquity of the hanging ot 
four natives and the scourging of eight others, besides the 
infliction of varying terms of penal servitude ranging up to 
life imprisonment, for a so-called " assault " on five English 
officers under circumstances of the strongest provocation last 
month at a village in the Delta. 

The Pigeon-shooting Case at Denshawai. 
Although full information in regard to this astonishing case 
wras promised by Sir Edward Grey to Parliament as early as 
July 2nd, the Blue Book concerning it was not presented till 
July 28th, that is to say a few days only before the close 
of the Parliamentary Session and after the Foreign Office vote 
had been taken, thus making all real discussion of it in the 
House of Commons impossible. The excuse for the delay in 
publishing was the lengthy nature of the evidence given at the 
trial which would need translation. Nevertheless, the Blue 
Book, when it at last appeared was found to contain no word 
of that evidence. In place of it there stands printed the text 
of the Judgment pronounced by the judges in which what 
purports to be a rhumi of the facts proved at the trial is 
given. It contains also a statement by Lord Cromer that 
the trial was a fair one and that the sentences pronounced 
"though severe, were just and necessary." Lord Cromer, 
moreover, appeals at great length to his past services in the 
cause of justice and moral progress in Egypt — matters relating 
chiefly to twenty years ago, and concerned mainly with the 
reform of the Native Courts. Of any recent cases which have 
occurred between English officers and natives he says nothing, 
and he is silent as to his own responsibility in the present 


aflair. The Blue Book is, in fact, another instance of the way 
in which cases of the kind are hushed up and concealed 
officially by the British Agency at Cairo and the Foreign 
Office. If, therefore, we were dependent for our knowledge of 
what took place at the trial, or for the facts of the case, solely 
on the Blue Book, a certain doubt might be left on our minds 
in regard to these last. Fortunately, however, the principal 
points of the evidence denied by the Foreign Office is supplied 
us by the day-by-day reports published of it in English, 
French, and Arabic by the Cairo and Alexandria newspapers. 
It is from these and other sources, including a Special Report 
sent to me by the " notables and merchants of Cairo," that I 
give the following account of the afeir, not indeed affirming 
its complete accuracy, but only its accordance with what has 
been published and sent me. 

A$ to the First Facts. 

The facts of the case, which are beyond dispute, are that five 
English officers of the Army of Occupation, while employed 
on a march from Cairo to Alexandria, camped on the morning 
of the 13th of June, 1906, at a place in the province of Menu- 
fieh named Khamshish, and having established their camp, 
started almost immediately on a sporting expedition to shoot 
pigeons at a village some six miles distant, Denshawai, where 
it was known to some of them that there were large numbers 
of pigeons bred by the villagers; that, arrived at the village, 
the officers, who were in khaki uniform, posted themselves 
outside the village in two separate groups on two sides of it, 
and commenced shooting ; that the villagers objected to their 
thus shooting the pigeons ; that a dispute arose in consequence, 
with the result that a native woman and three men of the 
village were wounded with small shot ; that the officers then 
attempted to leave the village, but were attacked by the villagers 



and injured, some of them severely, but none of them in such 
a manner as to cause death ; that three of them were captured 
by the villagers and retained as prisoners, w^hile two escaped ; 
that of these two, one, Captain Bull, after running four and a 
half miles, fell down, overcome by the midsummer sun, in the 
neighbourhood of another village called Sersena, on the road by 
which they had come from Khamshish ; that the other fugitive, 
Captain Bostock, a medical officer, having reached the camp, 
gave warning to the soldiers of what had happened ; that a 
patrol of these then started for the scene of the affray ; that at 
Sersena they found Captain Bull on the ground in a dying 
state with a native of that village tending him ; that, sup- 
posing him to have murdered Captain Bull, they pursued 
and killed him ; that, at their arrival at Denshawai, they 
surrounded the village, when the captive officers were 

' Note. — As a contrast to the punishments inflicted on the natives 
and the zeal shown to obtain their legal conviction, the following 
extract from the Pall Mall Gazette will show the counter case of how 
leniently and evasively the killing of the native by the soldiers at 
Sersena has been dealt with : — 

" Cairo, July 31s/. 

" The report of the experts who performed the post-mortem on 
the native found dead at Dersineh (Sersena) has now been made 
public, and it declares that death was not due to a bayonet or shot, 
but to fracture of the skull through a blow or blows on the base, 
which had been completely smashed in. This clears the Mounted 
Infantry, for, although the blows might have been given by a soldier 
just as well as by a native, the absence of any bayonet or shot wounds 
removes any direct proof of the soldiers' complicity. It is to be 
hoped that, now that the matter has been sifted as far as it is humanly 
possible to do so, we shall hear nothing further of it, and that the 
native Press will cease its outcry." 

The native account of the manner of the man's death is that he 
was brained by the soldiers with the butt-ends of their rifles. There 
is, it seems, to be no court martial, for the simple reason that the 
soldiers have denied their guilt, and the natives cannot identify 
exactly which of the soldiers killed the man. 


This is the simplest statement of facts, undisputed except 
as to the Icilling of the native at Sersena. What also is 
certain is that on a report made by the oiEcers of what had 
happened to the General in command of the English garrison, 
a request was addressed by him to Lord Cromer, asking that 
the case might be treated under the decree of 1895 ; that 
upon this Mr. Machell, the English official adviser of the 
Ministry of the Interior, on the next day, the 14th, went with 
a large police force to Denshawai and arrested thirty-five of the 
inhabitants, certain others, supposed to be those principally 
concerned, having in the meanwhile escaped, nor had they 
been captured when the trial took place ; that upon Mr. 
Machell's report Lord Cromer decided that the case should 
be dealt with according to the special law decreed in 1895, 
already mentioned. 

It is worthy of notice that both General Bullock and Lord 
Cromer, in the official demands they made for a special 
Tribunal, describe the case as a ^^ shooting affray, with the 
result that one officer was killed and two were severely 
wounded," thus conveying the false impression that the three 
officers had been shot by the villagers, although in every account, 
official and unofficial, of the affair the only arms of the villagers, 
as both the General and Lord Cromer knew, were nabouts — 
heavy sticks (mis-translated in the Blue Book " sticks loaded 
with lead") — while the officers alone had firearms. 

As to the Procedure before the Trial. 

In accordance with this decision a decree was issued in the 
Khedive's name, the Khedive being himself at the time absent 
in Europe, bearing date June 17th, which runs as follows : — 

" Order by the Minister of Justice : 

"In view of Article z of the Decree of February 25, 1895, 
instituting a special Tribunal to take cognisance of crimes and 


oflFences committed against officers and soldiers of the Army of 
Occupation ; 

" In view of the despatch by which the Agent and Consul 
General of Great Britain demands, in conformity with Article 6 
of the above-named Decree, the constitution of the said Tribunal 
to take cognisance of the assault committed on the 13th of 
June instant, in a village near Tantah, and in consequence of 
which an officer, Captain Bull, was killed^ and two other 
officers. Major Pine Coffin and Lieutenant Smithwick, were 
very seriously injured ; 

" It is ordered : 

" Sole Article : Mr. Bond, Vice-President of the Native 
Court of Appeal, and Ahmed Bey Fathi Zaghlul, President of 
of the Native Tribunal of Cairo, are chosen members of this 
special Tribunal which shall assemble to determine the facts of 
the assault [statuer sur les faits d'aggression] here above 
mentioned : 

"Given at Cairo, June 17, 1906: Signed Boutros Ghali, 
the Minister, ad interim." 

On the same day, the 1 7th, and before any sitting of the 
Court of Inquiry had been held, Mr. Machell, the English 
official adviser to the Ministry of the Interior, issued to the 
Press an official statement of what purported to be the facts 
of the case, thus prejudging the results of the Inquiry. 
Between the 17th and the 19th Mr. Bond and Ahmed 
Bey Fathi Zaghlul examined the case at one or more private 
sittings — ^sittings at which neither newspaper reporters nor 
public were admitted, nor were the arrested persons who were 
examined represented by counsel. The official report of their 
answers, with other evidence thus privately obtained, was 

' Note. — The occurrence of the word " killed " in this Decree is 
noteworthy in connection with the true circumstances of Captain 
Bull's death by sunstroke. 


nevertheless used against them afterwards as evidence at the 

On the 20th it vi^as publicly announced that the Inquiry 
had been concluded and that a decision had been come to by 
it of inflicting death sentences. It is quite certain that Lord 
Cromer must have known the result of the Inquiry and 
approved the intention of punishing with death before this 
announcement was made, and that he did so on the ground 
afterwards abandoned at the trial, that the assault on the 
officers had been prearranged. It is indeed probable that he 
himself drew up the programme of punishment before he left 
for England. The special report sent me by the notables is 
insistent as to Lord Cromer's direct responsibility. It says : — 

" We draw your attention to the fact, which is now a dis- 
closed secret, that Lord Cromer had left the necessary instruc- 
tions before leaving and appointed the penalties beforehand." 
This is in accordance with every probability, inasmuch as there 
is no official, English or native, in Egypt who would have 
dared to take upon himself before trial the responsibility of so 
grave a decision. Lord Cromer's approval is also plainly alluded 
to in a telegram, from its Cairo correspondent, printed by the 
Daily Chronicle in London on the morning of June 2 1st 
under the heading of " Short Shrift " : — 

" The preliminary inquiry into the attack on British officers 
. , . has been concluded. Everything indicates that the 
outrage was much more serious than at first supposed, and 
that it was prearranged. Fortunately this time Lord Cromer 
is convinced of the bad faith of the natives. They will be 
severely dealt with, and the sentences will be carried out 
immediately, those condemned to death being shot in public. 
There will be no appeal." 

This telegram, be it remarked, was published in London 
three clear dap before the trial began. Lord Cromer left 


England on the 19th, and the telegram must have been 
despatched not later than the 20th. On the same day, the 
20th, the Ministry of the Interior ordered from the Police 
Stores at Cairo that a gallows should be got ready and sent 
to Denshawai. This was in all the Cairo newspapers. The 
words of the Special Report are : " On Wednesday (the 
20th) the Ministry of the Interior ordered the Police Stores 
of Cairo to send the gallows to Denchewy, and we assure you, 
though it was afterwards denied by the Ministry, that the 
machine and twenty ropes were sent on Wednesday to Den- 
chewy." This ordering of the gallows, be it noted, took tlace 
four days before the trial began. 

The following is the text of a second Decree, also signed on 
the 20th : — 

" Order by the Minister of Justice : 

"In view of the Decree of Feb. 25, 1895, &c., 

" It is ordered : 

"Article i. The special Tribunal composed of 

"Mr. William Goodenough Hayter, Judicial Adviser, ad 
interim ; 

" Mr. Bond, Vice-President of the Native Court of Appeal ; 

" Lieut.-Colonel Ludlow, Officiating Judge Advocate of the 
Army of Occupation ; 

"Ahmed Bey Fathi Zaghlul, President of the Native 
Tribunal of Cairo, sitting under my Presidency : 

"is convoked to determine the facts of the assault here 
above mentioned. 

"Article 2. The Tribunal will sit at Shibine-el-Kum and 
will hold its first meeting Sunday, June 24, instant, at 10 o'clock 
in the morning. 

"Given at Cairo, June 20, 1906. Signed Boutros Ghali, 
the Minister, ad interim." 


Composition of the Court at Shibin-el-Kom. 

What is noticeable in the composition of the Court thus 
appointed to try the villagers, and which held its first public 
sitting at Shibin-el-Kom on June 24th, the chief town of 
the district in which the affray had occurred, is 

1. The Court was, as already shown, illegally convened, 
there being nothing in the facts revealed either by Mr. 
Machell's police inquiry or by the Preliminary Inquiry to 
suggest that the case was one affecting British soldiers " in the 
execution of their military duty " (compare page 23). 

2. The judges appointed to try the case in public and to 
pronounce sentences on the Mohammedan villagers, in Egypt 
a Mohammedan country, on charges declared by Sir Edward 
Grey to have been connected with Mohammedan fanaticism, 
were three Englishmen, including an English officer, one Chris- 
tian Egyptian, and only one Mohammedan. 

3. It is to be remarked that two of the judges out of the 
five were precisely the two who had already inquired into the 
case in private, and in connection with whose oiEcial inquiry 
it had been publicly announced that it was intended to 
pronounce sentences of death, 

4. Although it has been officially stated that all the members 
of the Court were " acquainted with Arabic," it is extremely 
unlikely that the acquaintance of all of them with it was 
sufficient to enable them to understand the native evidence. 
It is equally unlikely that the accused villagers understood the 
evidence given in English by the officers, although translators 
are said to have explained it to them. 

5. Mr. Hayter, representing the Ministry of Justice and one 
of the judges, is admitted to have had no judicial experience. 
Another, Colonel Ludlow's experience of Egyptian Courts 
cannot have been great, while the Coptic Pasha Butros, 


though Minister of Justice and President of the Tribunal, 
was no lawyer, and seems to have been so distrustful of his own 
judicial ability that he left the whole of the direction of the 
trial to Mr. Bond, who monopolised the initiative. Yet Mr. 
Findlay, acting in Lord Cromer's place, writes of the special 
Tribunal legalised by the Decree of 1895: "The object 
of the institution of this Court was to insure that such cases 
should be tried by competent judges acquainted' with the 
country, customs and language of the people/' 

As to the Unfair Procedure in Court. 

The impression given to unprejudiced spectators, as repro- 
duced in the French accounts, clearly was that the sole duty 
entrusted to the Court was as speedily as possible to deliver 
the sentences already agreed upon and made public, and to 
cast over the punishments intended a thin veil of legality. 
The counsel for the defence, according to these, were 
throughout under intimidation from the circumstances of 
military display under which the Court was sitting ; and the 
timid and obsequious language of their pleading, as given in 
the reports, fully bears out this impression. The following 
is from the French newspaper, I'Egypte, which, it may be 
remarked, has been throughout a supporter of Lord Cromer's 
policy, especially during the recent months of his quarrel 
with the Sultan, and to the extent that it is published on 
the same sheets with an English newspaper avowedly his 
partisan. Speaking of the helpless position of the counsel 
for the defence, the writer, M. Munier, an eye-witness and a 
French gentleman of the highest respectability, says : — 

" These defenders of the accused might have exclaimed with 
Cicero in the pleading he made for Milo^ 'This new form 
of justice is made to strike terror. I turn my eyes, I look 
in vain for the ancient customs of the Forum and the old 


traditions of justice. Here we have no Tribunal with which 
we are familiar, and the crowd which presses on me is not 
one we are any of us accustomed to see around us,' The 
bench of judges," M. Munier goes on, "had been carefully 
packed, and, among the magistrates charged with judging 57 
accused Moslems, three judges were English and only two 
native, one of whom was a Christian. Out of the 57 
persons accused 50 are caged within barred enclosures, 
the 7 others have disappeared and will be judged en ton- 
tumace. The interrogatory of these 57 accused lasted 
exactly thirty minutes^ that is to say they gave them no 
time at all to defend themselves. The Englishmen, who 
were perhaps the aggressors, and who, in any case, were 
actors in the affray, and for that reason inculpated until light 
should be thrown on the affair, remain free, and alone have 
the right to explain themselves. One sees clearly from the 
first moment that the game is not a fair one. It is Mr. 
Bond who directs the arguments ; it is he who puts the 
questions ; it is he who, with Lieut.-Col. Ludlow, dictates 
to the dragoman the words to be interpreted. On one of 
the witnesses, who at the preliminary inquiry accused his 
fellow-countrymen, who in the face of the open Court now 
recognised, doubtless with remorse, that it was the English- 
men who had begun the quarrel, Mr, Bond inflicts this 
rebuke : ' Your contradiction nowise astonishes me. All 
Egyptians are alike. Not one can be trusted.' We see at 
once the effect of this gratuitous insult in the faces of the 
two native judges. 

"When the choice of witnesses was made, the Agent of 
Police who accompanied the officers on their shooting expedi- 
tion was left out. This Agent, a man of fearless bearing, 
nevertheless makes his appearance before the Court, having 
been called by the prisoners' counsel. He relates the facts as 


he saw them. Mr. Bond asks him if he is not afraid. 
* Nobody in the world,* he replied, ' is able to frighten me ; the 
truth is the truth.' But his evidence interferes with the plans 
laboriously built up by those who are charged with the higher 
interests of Egypt ; he is promptly sent down.^ When the 
Advocate-General began his speech for the prosecution there 
was not one of us who did not know the names of the victims 
chosen for the act of public vengeance." 

Be it also remarked as typical of the one-sided character of 
the proceedings, and an astonishing instance of the readiness 
with which the Court accepted as sufficient the statements, 
sworn and unsworn, of the officers, to the prejudice of the 
natives, that on the question of identification being raised, 
Major Pine Coffin's word was allowed without comment, 
when he ventured to affirm that, out of the fifty-two prisoners 
present in Court, he was able to recollect and identify twenty- 
nine — a feat of memory which, under the brief and troubled 
circumstances of his connection with the prisoners, is probably 
unparalleled in the annals of English evidence. 

Such at least is the account of it given in the English 
reports of the trial, though the Special Report puts it at twelve 
only, the fact remaining that the officers between them suc- 
ceeded in identifying at least twenty-one, without which feat 
of memory so large a number of convictions could not have 
been legally obtained. The memory of the officers would, 
indeed, be quite incredible were it not explained in the 
Special Report that it was facilitated by numbered placards in 
European characters, having been conspicuously affixed to each of 
the fifty-two prisoners, in order that those designed for punishment 
might be easily identified, the numbers attached to those thus selected 

' Note. — This police officer has since been tried for his conduct in 
connection with the affair before a " Court of Discipline," and has 
been condemned to two years' imprisonment and fifty lashes. 


having been previously communicated to the officers. I do not 
aflBrm that this was a true explanation of the placards, but 
all accounts speak of the use of them as a feature unpre- 
cedented in Egyptian criminal courts, nor is it easy to 
account for the innovation by any other theory. The fact 
that, though the proceedings were avowedly all in Arabic, the 
placards were in European character seems to indicate a 
purpose which at least requires official explanation. 

In contrast with these facilities of identification given to 
the officers, we find the soldiers who had killed the native of 
Sersena declared guiltless at a later military inquiry, through 
the impossibility of identification by the native witnesses to 
whom "all the soldiers looked alike." 

As to the Evidence recorded. The Question of Uniform. 

The question of uniform — an important one under the 
circumstances — was the first discussed. Here, in answer to 
Colonel Ludlow, Major Pine Coffin deposed that "all the 
officers were in khaki uniform, wearing knee-breeches and 
spurs and helmets, and all wore their regimental shoulder 
badges." This, although considered sufficient to give a 
semblance of legality to the application of military law to the 
case, is hardly conclusive as a proof that the villagers recognised 
the sportsmen as English soldiers. Helmets and khaki are 
commonly worn by civilian Englishmen, and indeed by other 
foreigners, in summer, when in the country neighbourhood of 
Cairo, while the shoulder badges are so small, hardly larger 
than half a crown, that they are not likely even to have been 
noticed, still less understood, by the villagers. 

The question of uniform was much insisted on by Colonel 
Ludlow, as on it might be made to rest the legality of the 
decision to take the case away from the ordinary criminal 
courts, and treat it as one of an attack on soldiers performing 


a military duty. It is difficult, however, to understand pigeon 
shooting, even in uniform, as military duty, unless, indeed, 
it was intended as a military demonstration to overawe the 
neighbourhood ; in which case the officers should surely not 
have surrendered their arms to an unarmed crowd. 

As to the Right to shoot the Pigeons. 

The Counsel for the prosecution asserted with much 
insistence that the pigeons were wild birds, and that the dove- 
cotes they lived in belonged to nobody, nor does the text of 
the Judgment delivered, in its recapitulation of the facts proved, 
pronounce upon this point. All those, however, who visited 
Denshawai in connection with the trial and the executions, 
agree in a contrary opinion. The pigeons, they say, are bred 
in large numbers by the villagers, and habitually roost in towers 
specially constructed for them in and around the village, the 
birds being an important part of the village wealth. They do 
not belong to the Omdeh, though it is often assumed by 
sportsmen that an Omdeh's permission gives them the right to 
shoot. That the officers assumed this appears in the evidence. 
Major Pine Coffin deposes that he had been out pigeon 
shooting before, and that " when he went out shooting he had 
always obtained beforehand the permission of the Omdeh 
of the village." No evidence, however, was offered at the 
trial that any such permission had been obtained in the present 
instance. All that the officers were able to swear to was that 
they had met a man outside the village and had asked him 
through an interpreter — for they did not speak Arabic — 
whether they could shoot, and that he had signified his assent 
if at a distance from the village. On being questioned on the 
second day of the trial. Major Pine Coffin corrected his 
statement about asking leave, which had implied an admission 
that he knew the birds to be private property, by saying that 


"he had always understood that wild pigeons, such as they 
were shooting at, were public property when they were 
outside the bounds of the village." Even according to this 
rule, however, had it been a true one. Major Pine Coffin 
would not have been justified by Egyptian law, for it stands 
on his own evidence as recorded by one report that he began 
his shooting within 85 yards only from the village, a dis- 
tance recognised by law as well within the village bounds, 
for it is forbidden to fire a gun for sporting purposes within 
250 metres, say 270 yards, of an inhabited house or a thresh- 
ing floor or a water-wheel or a public road or a canal. The 
action, therefore, of the officers was, however they have 
chosen to put it, illegal. The illegality seems to have been 
noticed by the judges, and it is a striking instance of their bias 
and of their endeavour to show the perfect correctness of the 
officers' conduct that, notwithstanding the evidence just quoted 
and even the admission of the counsel for the prosecution that 
85 yards was the distance, the text of their sentence, where the 
facts proved are recapitulated, states the distance proved to have 
been 500 metres from the houses of the village and 100 metres 
from the threshing-floor. That the distance was less than 100 
yards is shown by the photographs of the execution since pub- 
lished by The Illustrated London News and other newspapers, 
inasmuch as it is stated that the gallows were erected as near 
as possible to where the affray occurred. 

As to the Shooting of the Native Woman. 
As it is not my object, in publishing this pamphlet, to insist 
upon the faults either of judgment or otherwise of the officers 
concerned in this affair, but to show only the injustice done, I 
refrain from dwelling in detail on the curious nature of the 
evidence they are reported to have given beyond stating that 
the Reports published in Egypt, together with the Special 


Report sent me, give a very distinct impression that it viras 
desired both by the oflScers and by the Court that the full 
circumstances of the woman's wounding should be concealed. 
It is the universal belief in native Egypt that at least one shot 
was fired by the oiScers into the crowd, which wounded the 
woman and three men, and that it was so the published 
evidence goes far to prove. 

Major Pine Coffin, in the English reports, is stated to have 
sworn that, understanding that the woman was dead, he 
arrested one of the junior officers, saying, as he did so, that 
" he had killed a woman, and he must take him away and 
must therefore arrest him." The fact of the arrest having 
been sworn to is given in the text of the Judgment (see Blue 
Book), but not the words reported to have been used by the 
Major. It says : "He [Major Pine Coffin] went to the mob 
and arrested Lieutenant Porter, assisted by another officer, as a 

With regard to Lieutenant Porter's gun there is curious 
discrepancy and self-contradiction in the text of the Judgment, 

Paragraph 5 of the Judgment says : " The owner of the 
threshing floor approached Lieutenant Porter and seized his 
gun, when about thirty persons, some of whom took hold of 
the gun at the same time, and the others surrounded the 
officer \sic\. They pulled the gun from him, after which the 
gun exploded, two shots going off, and the wife of Mohamed 
Abd-el-Nabi Moazzin, Amir Ads, Sheikh-el-Ghaffir, Ali 
Dabshah, and Mohamed Daoud received the charge from the 

Paragraph 7, on the other hand, of the Judgment says : 
" Major Pine Coffin went, accompanied by his two comrades, 
towards the other officers ; he saw that the crowd around them 
increased and the Lieutenant was unwilling to surrender his 


weapon, and he saw evil intentions in the faces of the crowd. 
He wished to go back, and began to taice the cartridges from 
his gun, which he gave to a native. He also gave his watch 
to that man, and ordered his comrades to give up their guns. 
He went to the mob and arrested Lieutenant Porter, assisted 
by another officer, as a criminal, and all turned to go to where 
they had left their carriages and horses." 

These two slovenly and obscure passages, so little creditable 
in the solemn summing up of "competent " English judges as 
the reasons of their pronouncing sentences of death, are, as I 
have said, self-contradictory. The first asserts that the gun 
was pulled away from the Lieutenant ; the second, if it means 
anything, that the gun was still in his hands when the Major 
arrested him. 

What is the reason of this discrepancy, of this obscurity, 
of tljis intricate confusion of personal pronouns ? 

According to the Special Report sent me, the evidence 
offered by the onbashi, sergeant of police, Ahmed Hassan 
Zagzug, which was suppressed and caused his being turned out 
of the witness-box, was to the effect that the officers had 
intentionally fired on the natives. 

As to Premeditation in the Attack, 
No evidence is recorded in the accounts of the trial of 
any premeditation in the sense given to the word in English 
law courts, differentiating murder from homicide, a pre- 
arranged attack from an accidental affray. The whole 
story of there having been a trap laid for the officers — a tale 
we find put forward as the chief reason which weighed with 
Lord Cromer in deciding that severe and exemplary punish- 
ment should be inflicted on the villagers — seems to have been 
at the outset abandoned at the trial, no evidence whatever 
being given in support of it. On the contrary, the accidental 


character of the affray comes clearly out in the testimony 
of Major Pine Coffin, who declared that "the only previous 
notice these men (the villagers) had that the officers of the 
party wished to go shooting was that given by the onbashi 
of police when he went to inform the Omdeh " — that is to 
say a few minutes before the shooting began. 

Nevertheless, in the text of the Judgment pronounced 
on the accused by the judges, the following paragraph 
occurs : — 

"This crime was intentional and previously arranged, 
as is evident from the fire and the sudden increase of the 
mob against the officers on the south side [Lieutenant 
Porter's] and those who seized Captain Bull and pointed 
to the smoke." This pronouncement suggests that pre- 
cisely the same fiction was employed by the prosecution as 
we have seen employed in the Montaza case and the 
fox-hunting case, namely, that the gathering together of 
natives, where disputes have arisen between them and 
English officers, has been interpreted as a conspiracy to 
assault with " previous agreement and intent to do bodily 
hurt," thus bringing the accused under the last paragraph of 
Article 220 of the Egyptian Code. Nobody in England, 
however, need be deluded by this legal quibble into the 
belief that premeditation ^of the kind which constitutes 
murder is to be found anywhere in the evidence. 

Ai to the Medical Evidence, 

Although a violent assault was proved against the villagers, 
and although there was evidence of the officers having been 
robbed as well as assaulted by persons unknown, the published 
reports contain no evidence of killing or an intention to kill. 
Captain Bostock, who is a medical officer, deposes that he had 
" made a superficial post-mortem examination of Captain Bull's 


body, and concluded that death was due to concussion of the 
brain and sunstroke." Dr. Nolan, who, by Lord Cromer's 
order, had made a subsequent post-mortem examination, also 
deposed that the wounds found on Captain Bull " were caused 
by violent blows with a blunt instrument, but the direct cause 
of death was heat apoplexy" and again, that " after hearing 
the evidence, he concluded that death was due to heat 
apoplexy, aggravated by concussion of the brain caused by 
blows." Thus we find no conclusive evidence even of man- 
slaughter against the villagers. 

As to the intention of killing, the evidence is wholly the 
other way. Captain Bull was struck, it is not stated either by 
whom or by what weapon, but apparently by brickbats thrown 
by the crowd. It is unlikely, moreover, that his bruises can 
have been very severe, as he was the officer chosen by Major 
Pine Coffin to run back to the English camp six miles away, 
and he outstripped the others and, in fact, had run four miles 
before the heat of the sun overpowered him, nor is there any 
evidence of his being again assaulted while on the road. Still 
less is there evidence in regard to the three officers who 
remained in the hands of the crowd. These were seriously 
maltreated, and one of them. Lieutenant Porter, imagined that 
the villagers intended to burn him, while a dumb show of 
throat-cutting, a very common gesture in Egypt, but which 
probably in the present instance meant no more than that the 
officers deserved death for the injury caused to the woman, are 
in evidence. It is clear, however, that there can have been 
no serious intention to kill, for the officers were unarmed and 
entirely in the power of their captors during some hours 
without any murderous intention against them being carried 
into efifect. 

By analogy with the Ghizeh case, I am convinced that 
what the villagers intended was in the first place to stop the 



shooting of their pigeons. It seems certain that the yqar 
before they had complained of the depredations of certain 
shooting parties, but that, through the intrigue of an Omdeh 
or other influential person, their petition was not forwarded 
to Government, or if forwarded, was withdrawn. They were 
therefore, when this new raid on their pigeons occurred, 
resolved to put an end to the injury done them by the only 
means open to them, namely, that of securing the intruders' 
guns as a method of identification and future claim for damages. 
On one occasion, it has been stated, though I do not find it 
in the evidence, that several sacks full of pigeons had been 
carried away by a shooting party — a quite sufficient reason for 
their action in preventing a repetition of the injury done them. 
Their extreme anger, however, was certainly due to the 
gunshot wounds sustained by the woman and the three men. 
It is difficult to understand that any one knowing the fellahin 
should read the evidence otherwise. Although attempts had 
been made to wrest their guns from the officers, no blow 
is in evidence as having been struck until after the wounding 
of the woman. It is natural that they should not have 
been content with the offers of money compensation made 
them after this, and that, when they saw Major Pine Coffin 
making off with the rest of the party for their carriages, they 
resolved to arrest and detain them. That the three officers 
were brutally treated is certain, but only one of them, Major 
Pine Coffin, was seriously hurt, and it must be remembered, 
when kicks are mentioned as having been dealt to their 
prostrate bodies to make them get up and go back with their 
captors to the village, that it must have been with naked feet, 
for the fellahin of Egypt go habitually unshod. It is not at all 
certain that under like provocation strangers in an English 
village would have been much more gently treated. 

Yet Mr. Findlay, acting for Lord Cromer, describes the 


case as having been proved to be one of " brutal and 
premeditated murder." 

As to Fanaticism. 

It is to be noted that there is not a syllable in the evidence 
or in the recorded proceedings of the Court that, however 
remotely, suggests fanaticism as a cause of the villagers' action, 
still less as one that can justify the savage punishments which 
are now being excused on that plea. 

In this connection it may well be asked how, if the country 
was known to be in a state of fanatical excitement, as Lord 
Cromer now declares it to have been, it came about that 
officers in command of a body of English troops marching 
through a district thus disturbed, should have been allowed or 
should have allowed themselves to separate so far as five miles 
from their men and go on a shooting excursion under circum- 
stances of such doubtful legality. If such was indeed the case, 
might it not be suggested that the opportunity of a conflict 
was deliberately sought ? Of course no such intention is 
likely to have been in the minds of the officers. But the idea 
of fanatical excitement and its attendant danger in the country 
they were marching through must have been equally absent 
from their minds. 

The plea of fanaticism as a cause of the conflict has clearly 
been an afterthought. It was not even put forward by the 
Counsel of prosecution in his charge against the villagers. 
Mr. Findlay admits this and more when he says : " I do not 
believe that this brutal attack on British officers had anything 
directly to do with political animosity." 

As to the Text of the Judgment. 
The judgment, as printed in the Blue Book, is one of the 
most disgraceful documents ever issued, as their deliberate 


summing up of a case and sentence by civilised judges. It is 
self-contradictory, slovenly, and in its language truculent and 

Its truculence and absurdity are shown in the following 
passages : — 

"Whereas this crime was committed against officers who 
surrendered their arms and were defenceless, and could do 
nothing but flee. This they could not do in spite of their 
eflForts to do so. They showed no enmity, and did not provoke 
the aggressors by words or signs, and did not arouse their anger 
so as to cause them to act as they had done ; 

" Whereas this crime was committed intentionally and with 
premeditation, as is evident from the fire and the sudden 
increase of the mob against the two officers on the south side, 
and the act of seizing hold of the hand of Captain Bull on 
the north side and pointing to the smoke. Nobody present 
had mercy on a guest who had done nothing to deserve 
blame, and still less such excessive violence as to cause his 
death, while people were present among the crowd who 
might have prevented it but these were more severe and 
more merciless than the others ; 

"Whereas what makes the crime worse is that it was 
committed against men who were known for their valour and 
who had seen active service, and could have shot the aggressors 
as they did the pigeons^ but they had peaceful intentions. 
They surrendered their weapons in order to save themselves, 
but it only resulted in harm. 

"Whereas these prisoners, by reason of the outrage they 
committed, deserve no mercy, as they showed no mercy." 

Nevertheless, abominable as the judgment is, it does not go 
to the full length of ascribing " murder " to the villagers. Its 
text on this head is "the incident is considered as homicide, 
preceded, accompanied, or followed by the crime of robbery 


with violence." In this it falls short of the official report of 
our Agency to the Foreign Office which calls it a " brutal and 
premeditated murder." Its sentences are : — 

1. Sentences of death by hanging on four of the villagers. 

2. Sentences of penal servitude for life on two of the 
villagers. One of these, be it noted, was the husband of the 
woman shot. 

3. Sentence of fifteen years' penal servitude on one of the 

4. Sentences of seven years' penal servitude on six of the 

5. Sentences of one year's imprisonment with hard labour 
and 50 lashes on three of the villagers. 

6. Sentences of fifty lashes on five of the villagers. 

As to the Executions. 

With regard to the circumstances of the executions and in 
connection with Sir Edward Grey's statements regarding 
them, I give the following abridged translation from the 
Journal du Caire, an old-established paper edited in French, 
and far from unfavourable to the present rigime in Egypt. 
That journal's special correspondent writes : — 

" Here we see the Middle Age punishments as the order 
of the day, gallows, pillory, iron collar, judge, executioner, 
torturer — nothing wanting but the wheel, the pale, and the 
stake for burning — nor indeed are we by any means sure that 
in the Modern Spirit certain persons do not regret the 
abolition of torture, and of the sanctions of inquisitorial 
tribunals to strike terror into these unfortunate fellahs not 
deserving pity but rather the gibbet. 

"Denshawai is a poor village — a heap of cinder-like earth 
hidden amongst reeds beneath the shade of a few palm-trees. 
At the corners of all its dilapidated huts rise cones of unbaked 


brick several metres in height, the homes of those famous 
pigeons supposed to be wild — of which not a single one 
remains away longer than half a day from the roof under 
which it was hatched. 

"The agricultural road skirts the village from East to 
West, and is the boundary of the threshing-floors where the 
cattle go round threshing the corn. Close by, a cemetery of 
tombs all of like form and in regular lines betokens respect for 
the dead and reverence for their memory. Far oiF — very far 
away — there stretches a vast plain, green with the cotton 
plants, golden-yellow with the straw of the corn crop, gray 
where these have been reaped, a fertile plain where the sun's 
rays lose themselves in the vibrations of an overheated 
atmosphere clothing the soil with the romance of a restless 

"Under the shade of those heaps of dry earth swarms a 
whole population of human beings, ignorant of the needs, the 
customs, and law of civilised peoples. They know that the 
village watchmen are paid to protect their property, and the 
sergeants of rural police to prevent quarrels with the neigh- 
bouring villages ; their imagination hardly realises railways, or, 
indeed, any machine beyond their water-wheels, yet, for my 
part, I believe that even wireless telegraphy would not astonish 

" Nevertheless it is accepted that such people may be at 
times a danger for governments and a cause of anxiety for the 
Army of Occupation which they might assail with stones and 
staves. It will be attempted to make them understand that it 
is needless to take hats, helmets, or coats for signs of Western 
savagery, it will be attempted to get them to eat, drink, and 
sleep, with no other thought than that of security and safety — 
guaranteed to them in return for their strangled liberty. 

"The village has known for two days the doom which is 


to strike those guilty of insurrection. From early morning 
patrols of English soldiers come and go along the dusty road 
which rolls out its ten kilometres from the railway station, and 
which cuts into two portions the canal which fertilizes the 
land. Soon some wagons stop in front of the enclosure, 
scaflFoldings of wood are erected, tents are pitched, ropes are set 
out, watchmen arrive from all directions, police assemble in 
numbers and give orders, high personages converse circum- 
spectly, cavalry stir up clouds of dust, range themselves in the 
fields, and form square around an enclosure in the open air. 

"In the midst stands a gigantic scaffolding, twenty to 
thirty feet in height. A staircase of a dozen steps leads up to 
the platform of two square metres ; two arms are raised and 
cross one another towards the sky to fix the gallows where is 
fastened a brand new rope, strong enough to tie up an 
elephant. Very near it a second smaller cord is coiled round a 
pulley, and will serve to pull up the hanged persons. The 
roofs of the huts are crowded with moaning women ; they 
utter cries of terror at the sight of this apparatus for the 
executions. Moreover, the gallows flaunts its crossbeams at 
twenty paces from the threshing-floors where the straw still 
smokes from the remains of a fire, its scaffolding is in view 
from all the neighbouring villages, groups of people stand still 
at great distances both to watch the horror of the spectacle, 
and out of respect for the criminals who are to suffer. 

"The sun is at its highest ; it burns helmets and backs, the 
bayonets glitter in its fiery rays. The mudir gives the order 
summoning the first of the condemned, an old man of seventy, 
still hale, with white beard, who comes out of the tent without 
making a false step over the clods of earth which he treads 
down barefooted. 

" Brought along between two soldiers with fixed bayonets, 
he listens to the sentence of death read out, his countenance 


untroubled ; with a firm step he walks to the scaffold and 
with equal steadiness mounts the steps. He places himself 
beneath the gallows opposite the village where for three- 
quarters of a century his life has passed in peace ; he must 
recognise his wife, his children, his relations, who cry loudly 
while stretching out their arms towards him. He faints not ; 
he utters a curse on the Omdeh who has betrayed him, on the 
people who have not defended him ; he asserts his innocence, 
then turning to the executioner asks for the rope to put it 
round his neck. 

" But already hands and feet are being bound, a leather belt 
is firmly fastened round the loins, the slip knot passed round 
the throat, the black hood drawn over the head ; at a sign 
from the executioner the assistants stand aside, the hangman 
works a lever, the trap suddenly opens, the body falls straight 
into space, the cord is checked with a jerk, a dull crack of 
dislocated bones, and the executed criminal turns round and 
round on himself as moves a suspended beam now to the right, 
now to the left, until the point of immobility is reached. 

"The bystanders consider in silence the sinister aspect of 
this tragic end ; hearts stop beating ; the executioners leave 
no time for eyes to moisten. On a cross solidly constructed 
at fifteen paces from the gibbet they are preparing the punish- 
ment of flagellation. The first suiFerer strips to the waist, 
passes his head in the iron collar, stretches out his arms, which 
they bind to the cross, and on his bare torso the kurbash 
descends rhythmically to the sound of the voice that counts 
the blows and of the cries of pain which each of them wrings 
from the sufferer ; the bronzed skin tumefies, splits in places, 
the blood spurts ; it is sickening, horrible. The expiation 
finished, with great effort the fellah can stand upright. 

"A second man succeeds him, who cries out still more 
desperately ; the third one is literally contorted under the 


lash ; he loses consciousness, the doctor stops the flogging. 
Meanwhile the man hanged has given up the ghost. The 
small cord turns on its pulley and is fastened to the buckle 
of the leathern waist belt of the victim who is hauled up to 
take off the slip knot ; they untie the feet and hands, and, on 
a litter brought by the assistants, they lay out the corpse to 
take it avray to a tent provided with winding sheets and 

"The village resounds with shrill cries ; the women wave 
their veils as in madness, the men in their consternation are 
dumb, their eyes fixed on the murderous scaffolding. 

" The second condemned follows with the same assured 
step as his predecessor. He is a vigorous type of man, his 
glance has no evil meaning, one would think well of him. 
He makes no reply to the sentence of death ; he marches up 
the funereal stairs as if for a morning call ; he looks beyond the 
black veils that are waving, not a word disturbs this terrible 
moment ; the trap opens, the gallows creaks, the body twirls 
round and round ; dogs and men howl at the death. 

" Not a single contraction of the brows among the soldiers 
who are in attendance. 

" The executions continue. The whip lashes the loins, the 
pain forces out cries, the same voice placidly counts the blows. 

" A quite young man of eighteen years, innocent of eye, of 
countenance calmly beautiful, comes on between two bayonets 
to hear himself reproached for the crime his impulsive youth 
had led him to commit ; death has no terrors for him. A 
victim doubtless unconscious (of any crime), he offers his neck 
with the same serenity that he might have offered an arm to his 
fiancee. No request for pardon ; the bystanders become more 
silent, but a mist covers their eyes ; the lad is launched into 
space; justice is satisfied. 

" Torrents of imprecations mount to the skies, the police 


can hardly restrain the crowd which surges out of the village. 
Order is gradually restored. 

" The flogging goes remorselessly on, the new ropes redden 
as they lash into the flesh. 

"The amateur photographers are pressing the buttons of 
their kodaks. 

" They are waiting for the last condemned to death, the 

" Though of a proud carriage there is nothing affected in 
his disdain. Needless to hold his hands or to support him, he 
walks with head erect to meet his end. He is praying. 

"The name of God whom he invokes resounds over the 
heads of the soldiers as far as the village ; the name of God 
is re-echoed again and again from the housetops and dove- 
cotes. At this moment the pigeons fly round wildly. 

" The trap falls for the last time. 

" The hangman sighs with satisfaction. 

" Soon afterwards the crowd disperses slowly and in silence 
under the shadow of a lugubrious justice. Only the women, 
like hunted wolves, howl with rage and anguish. 

" Civilisation has triumphed ! " 

Further particulars. 

The Special Report sent me contains the following particulars 
as to Hassan Mahfuz, the first villager hanged, a man of 
seventy-five — seventy according to our reckoning : — 

" His house was about 50 metres from the scafFolding. His 
hareem, daughters, sons, granddaughters, and their sons were 
standing on their housetop, where they could see their grand- 
father with his pure white beard, and he could see them easily 
in his place of execution. When his family first took sight 
of him drawing near the scafiFold they wailed dismally. On 
hearing them he spoke out and said, " May God who is 


the Sovereign of all creatures deal with you [ ? his judges] 

Of Ismail-el-Sisi, who was scourged, it says : " His back was 
turned towards the village in order to let the women who 
were then standing on their housetops see the flogging and 
its effects on a human body." 

Of Yusuf Huseyn Selim, the second villager hanged, it says 
that in the hanging his legs were broken, " The women, 
who saw him from the housetops in such a lamentable state, 
resounded the air with their sorrowful cries." 

Of Mohammed Gorbashi, the third flogged, it says : 
"Mohammed Gorbashi was then undressed, crucified, and 
flogged fifty lashes. He got maddened on receiving the 
twelfth. His voice was not well heard, for a soldier was ordered 
to press his head down in the opening of the cross. 

Of Mohammed Derwish Zahran, the last hanged, it says : 
"He was taken to the gallows. On looking at his house 
he cried out, ' May God compensate us well for this world 
of meanness, for this world of injustice, for this world of 
cruelty.' The executioner had then put the rope round his 
neck and administered it wrongly. The condemned man 
was not strangled well, so he cried out, " Make haste, be 
quick ! " 

I understand from the Special Report that these extracts 
are to be found in an official report sent by the Mudir of 
Menoufieh to the Ministry of the Interior immediately after 
the executions. This, it is affirmed, was suppressed, and in 
its stead we find in the Blue Book a later but undated report 
prepared by Mr. Machell. Similarly I am told that a fresh 
report is being prepared for the Foreign Office of the evidence 
at the trial, in substitution for the original report received at 
the British Agency, but not forwarded. 



A few words of very plain speaking are necessary in con- 
clusion. The history I have recorded is one of immense 
disgrace to the English name. Unless we, as a nation, are 
to forfeit all claim to civilised consideration, the whole nation 
must raise its voice and protest against the last astounding 
iniquity done at Denshawai. Somebody must be called to 
account for it. 

Before this case was fully exposed to me I had indulged 
in a certain delusion, notwithstanding past cases which 
I knew, that influences were at work in Egypt or at the 
War Office in London, or possibly even in higher quarters 
stronger than Lord Cromer, all-powerful as he seemed to be, 
which he could not quite control, and that to these he had 
bowed when sharing with the General in command at Cairo 
the odium of extreme severities and the guilt of injustices 
where the Army of Occupation was concerned. Lord Cromer's 
conduct, however, on the present occasion, with its cynical 
defence of a case he cannot but know to be a judicial crime 
of the extremest, indeed of unprecedented turpitude — and still 
more the insincerity with which he has chosen to mask his own 
responsibility for what has been done by coming forward, as 
he does in the Blue Book, not in any garb of repentance or 
regret or self-excuse, but as the loyal defender of minor 
English officials, over whose action he has no authority, and 
whose conduct he generously vouchsafes to cover under the 
cloak of his own unimpeachable veracity — officials who had 
all the while been acting, perhaps unwillingly, under his 
orders ; all this, I say, has changed my view of Lord Cromer, 
and has convinced me that it is he, and none other, who must 
be called upon to defend himself before Parliament for his 
lapse from public virtue. 


That it is a great lapse is certain. Lord Cromer is the 
foremost man in English public life. He has rendered 
immense services to his country. He has received its most 
lavish rewards. In the very week of the Denshawai execu- 
tions he was decorated with the highest personal distinction a 
grateful King and country could bestow — the Royal Order of 
Merit. His fame is a European one ; nay, one world-wide. 
He has been a great benefactor even to Egypt, the land he 
has sullied with this last mad act of violent oppression. 

Yet, notwithstanding all this, it is clear he must be 
sacrificed unless the whole virtue of the nation is to vanish 
with him in a disgraceful smoke. I do not ask that Lord 
Cromer should be condemned or disgraced or recalled from 
Egypt without a full hearing. He may yet be able to tell 
us that, in spite of appearances, he is personally guiltless here, 
that his better judgment was imposed on by subordinates in 
Egypt, that he was obeying orders from his diplomatic chiefs 
at home, that he made a mistake of which he is ashamed. 
If he can do this, I shall, for my part, make him all the 
amends within my power in the way of apology and future 
praise. But, as things stand, the known facts are too terribly 
against him for any honest man with public courage not to 
denounce him, and not to demand that he should be cited to 
explain, or if explain he will not, then that he should leave 
to others the task of reparation for his crime, needed by the 
Egyptians he has wronged. 

It is impossible to accept the chose jugee as his only 
answer. Yet that is all he has given us. Still less is it 
possible to accept as reparation his cynical suggestions of 
reform for the law of 1895. What are his proposed remedies ? 

I. That the sentences pronounced should conform to the Egyptian 
Code? With a packed Court, it will be always possible to 
show that sentences do not overstep that Code. Even the 


Denshawai sentences of death were supposed to conform to 
it. Flogging would become impossible, but death sentences 
would probably be multiplied. 

2. That hangings should be in private, not in public ? I 
quite understand Lord Cromer should propose it, seeing what 
a storm the public hangings at Denshawai have raised about 
his ears in England. As a matter of fact, publicity is the 
only guarantee in Egypt against still more horrible abuses. 
It is no addition to the terror of death in an Egyptian fellah's 
mind that he should suffer under the eyes of his fellow- 
villagers and friends. As a Moslem his testimony to his faith 
pronounced publicly at the hour of death is always a notable 
consolation, and to deprive him of the opportunity would be 
equivalent to refusing to our condemned criminals the minis- 
trations of the Christian clergy. Even in England, private 
executions are preferred far more because they spare our own 
highly civilised feelings than out of any compassion for the 
condemned. To be strangled privately in a prison yard by a 
hangman and the prison warders is a far more horrible ending 
than to be hanged, even before an angry crowd, in the 
open air. 

3. That there should be an appeal. To whom ? Lord 
Cromer's whole justification of the case is that the Tribunal 
of Shibin-el-Kom was "composed of the best judicial elements 
to be found in Egyyt." Mr. Bond, we may presume, was 
the very best English judge he could find there, yet we see 
the result. An appeal to the Cairo Court of Appeal might 
perhaps be one from " Philip drunk to Philip sober," but it 
would in practice be only from Mr. Bond, Judge of the special 
Tribunal, to Mr. Bond, Vice-President of the Court of 
Appeal. It could not be more. The Montaza case proves 
how faint-hearted the Appeal Judges are in political cases 
of this kind ; how entirely Lord Cromer can rely on them. 


Or does Lord Cromer perhaps mean that the supreme 
appellant judge should be himself? 

No. All these suggestions are a sham. I say more. They 
are insult, and from his pen an outrage. There is only one 
remedy. The Decree of 1895 must be repealed, and the 
relations between Egyptians and the Army of Occupation put 
on a civilised footing. There is only one reparation. Lord 
Cromer must be compelled to explain himself — or, if he will 
not explain, he must be recalled from an official responsibility 
he has first honoured, but has now dishonoured in the face of 
the world as never responsibility was dishonoured. 

Let us remember the Dreyfus case ? Is there no Member 
of Parliament, no body of members, with sufficient courage to 
rise in their places, and say publicly of Lord Cromer, and of 
no other, " y accuse ? " 

August, 1906. 

U6e (Bresbam preea,